Increased cancer risks in blacks: A look at the factors

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Incidence and mortality rates of cancer in blacks have been increasing at a faster rate than in whites. In particular, recent incidence rates of lung cancer in black men have increased, while the rates in white men decreased for the first time since 1982 to 1983. This leveling off in incidence for whites may suggest the beginning of a downturn in lung cancer because the smoking prevalence has decreased substantially since 1965. There is considerable evidence that cancer risks in blacks are higher than in whites. The major risk factors to cancer include cigarette smoking, diet, alcohol, and occupational exposure to industrial carcinogens. Other factors, including immunogenetic and unknown risks, might be associated partially with an increased incidence of cancer in blacks. Analytic epidemiologic studies addressing the relationship between genetic factors, or biomarkers, and cancer along with epidemiologic methods are warranted. Key factors that contribute to the prevention of cancer mortality should be identified and promulgated through primary or secondary cancer prevention programs.

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